The two candidates for Craighead County judge debated Wednesday on several topics, such as how to address problems with the county’s budget, top priorities, and a crisis stabilization unit. Marvin Day and Jeff Presley are both Republican candidates that will face off in the May 22nd primary. No Democrats ran in this race, which means the winner will replace current Craighead County Judge Ed Hill, who is retiring. Day is a senior engineer with Jonesboro City Water and Light and Presley is the Director of Jonesboro and Craighead County E-9-1-1 system. Presley told what his top priority would be if elected.
“For the last 5 years, we have been out of compliance of FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency], Homeland Security, and others,” said Presley. “We have lost millions of dollars in grants for safe rooms for our schools simply because someone in county government was not doing their job. We have to stay in compliance on the federal and state side.”
Day thinks Craighead County should be run more like a business.
“The folks do a great job, but there are a lot of business aspects that need to be looked at,” said Presley. “We need to improve our communication with the citizens of our county when it comes to our road network and other issues.”
Presley says if he is elected, he says some important changes should take place.
“We have got to look at making some hard decisions on OEM [Office of Emergency Management], administrative, and other changes,” said Presley. “We will be accountable for what is going on in all departments and be much more transparent on how tax dollars are being spent in the county.”
Day says he would focus on the county working more in economic development and how to bring more manufacturing jobs into the county.
“There has been a surge in service jobs and a decline in manufacturing jobs,” said Day. “You can’t provide the necessary services where needed when a majority of your jobs in the county are on the lower end of the economic scale. We must attract higher paying jobs to this region.”
Both candidates were asked about how to fix the problems with the county’s 30-million-dollar budget, which is said to be way too tight. Day commented.
“We should start our budgeting a lot earlier in the year,” said Day. “We need to have a long-range planning committee that is comprised of Quorum Court officials, as well as elected officials to help us plan out the future for plans like a new county jail or other needs.”
Presley says there are areas where savings could be made in the budget.
“There are a lot of issues with the budget that must be looked at by each line-item,” said Presley. “There are a lot of areas that could be streamlined so taxpayer dollars could be saved. We could also save on how we deal with state contracts. We must work as a team.”
Both candidates say they are support a crisis stabilization unit in the county and hope that issue is resolved by the time a new county judge is in office. They also agreed on the need for state grants and other partnerships to help complete the Bono Lake project in the county.